Eight try thriller at the Rec

Bath Rugby put on an eight try spectacle beating Aironi 55-16. There were four tries from Matt Banahan, and two a piece for Luke Watson and Tom Biggs. Olly Barkley added 15 points of his own during a try-fest of Heineken Cup match which kept spectators on the edge of their seats for the whole eighty minutes.
Banahan's athletic catch from the kick off showed Bath's intentions early on. The forwards aimed to keep in tight and with Aironi deemed offside from only the second phase of the game, it provided Barkley the opportunity to successfully take the home side ahead by three.

Bath's early advantage was hastily reduced as Aironi were given a penalty, which fly-half James Marshall duly converted to quickly return the status quo. 3-3

The tempo at which Bath were playing rewarded them with a deserved first try from Tom Biggs. Huge pressure in the scrum forced a penalty, which man of the match and captain Watson took quickly, blasting people on his way towards the try line. Fantastic composure from the forwards, and quick delivery from Michael Claassens, enabled Biggs to scurry past his man and beat him on the outside. Barkley couldn't add the extras in windy conditions. 8-3.

Bath showed their defensive capabilities after minimising an Aironi attack with a turnover in the ruck and phases later, much to the crowds disapproval, were penalised after Stuart Hooper was deemed offside in an excellent backs piece that let loose full-back Nick Abendanon. Marshall stepped up and closed the gap to two. 8-6.

A second Bath try from the set piece came half way through the first half of the game. A lineout provided the platform for a Shontayne Hape crash ball. With the ruck being set up quickly, Claassens darted and held the defence, which formed a hole for Luke Watson to smash his way through and touch down just right of the posts. Barkley found his aim for the conversion, making the scores 15-6.

Bath showed they can score in close proximity or from their own line with their next try in quick succession. A line out deep in Bath's 22 let the backs loose with Barkley feeding Banahan, whose inside pass put Abendanon through. With the support of the equally fast Biggs, Abendanon offloaded just as he was tackled, to put Biggs in for his second try. Barkley found the middle from out wide. 22-6.

The moment Bath received the ball from the kick off, another wave of attack hit the visitors. A well secured ruck let the backs do their magic as Hape beautifully offloaded in the tackle to Banahan, who broke away and with some fancy footwork, stepped his man brushing aside the attempted tackle to secure the try bonus point within the first half. Barkley again was on form with his conversion. 29-6.

However, in true Italian spirit, Aironi regained seven points with a forwards orientated try resulting in back row Josh Sole crossing over from close quarters. Marshall once again converted. 29-13

With two minutes left on the clock, Banahan got his second try to accompany Biggs'. A well countered attack from replacement Jack Cuthbert took Bath up the pitch. Phases later, Banahan put himself in a superb position enabling him to break through the Italian side's defence, and score under the posts, much to the delight of the Rec crowd. Barkley added a simple two points to make the half time score 36-13.

Aironi came out in the second half as if stiff words had been dished out in the changing room. Having parked themselves on Bath's try line for a good five minutes, the home side showed good defensive abilities turning over the opposition and clearing to touch. However, Aironi came back determined and a play later Bath had conceded three points and gone down to fourteen men with Hape in the bin. 36-16.

Bath's reply was more fruitful than Aironi's previous penalty advantage. A well set lineout inside Aironi's 22, set the base for the Blue, Black and White's next try. A very flat back-line let Banahan score his hat trick try, by using his size and strength to power his way over the line. Barkley added the extras. 43-16.

As if trading places, as Hape returned from the bin, Aironi went a man short with the sin binning of replacement second row Marco Bortolami.

An excellent personal display of skill came from Banahan for his fourth try. From inside their own 22, the home side spun the ball wide to Banahan who took it on. A chip and chase down field showed the England winger's pace and power as a footrace began with his opposite number. Collecting the bounce of the ball on the line and with the stretch of his arm, the crowd cheered as Banahan touched down for Bath's seventh try. Barkley missed from the touch line. 48-16.

It seemed like there couldn't be any more tries with only three minutes left, but Bath hadn't finished quite yet. An onslaught of phases took Bath into Aironi's try area with the ball travelling from one side of the pitch to another, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seat in the final minutes. A messy ruck allowed Watson to tidy up the pieces, as he recovered possession and powered through the middle of the ruck to touch down unopposed. Barkley added his own contribution with the final conversion. Final score 55-16.

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